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The Great Trainrobbery - Resampled edition!

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The Great Trainrobbery - Resampled edition!

Published 1903


In 1903, an employee of Thomas Edison's motion picture company produced a movie with a story. It was called "The Great TrainRobbery." It told a simple story of a group of western criminals who steal money from a train. Later they are killed by a group of police in a gun fight. The movie was extremely popular. "The Great TrainRobbery" started the huge motion picture industry.

The Great Train Robbery was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter - a former Thomas Edison cameraman. It was a primitive one-reeler action picture, about 10 minutes long, with 14-scenes, filmed in November 1903 - not in the western expanse of Wyoming but on the East Coast in various locales in New Jersey (at Edison's New York studio, at Essex County Park in New Jersey, and along the Lackawanna railroad).

The precursor to the western film genre was based on an 1896 story by Scott Marble. The film's title was also the same as a popular contemporary stage melodrama. It was the most popular and commercially successful film of the pre-nickelodeon era, and established the notion that film could be a commercially-viable medium.

The film was originally advertised as "a faithful duplication of the genuine 'Hold Ups' made famous by various outlaw bands in the far West." The plot was inspired by a true event that occurred on August 29, 1900, when four members of George Leroy Parker's (Butch Cassidy) 'Hole in the Wall' gang halted the No. 3 train on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks toward Table Rock, Wyoming. The bandits forced the conductor to uncouple the passenger cars from the rest of the train and then blew up the safe in the mail car to escape with about $5,000 in cash.

The film used a number of innovative techniques, many of them for the first time, including parallel editing, minor camera movement, location shooting and less stage-bound camera placement. Jump-cuts or cross-cuts were a new, sophisticated editing technique, showing two separate lines of action or events happening continuously at identical times but in different places. The film is intercut from the bandits beating up the telegraph operator (scene one) to the operator's daughter discovering her father (scene ten), to the operator's recruitment of a dance hall posse (scene eleven), to the bandits being pursued (scene twelve), and splitting up the booty and having a final shoot-out (scene thirteen). The film also employed the first pan shots (in scenes eight and nine), and the use of an ellipsis (in scene eleven). Rather than follow the telegraph operator to the dance, the film cut directly to the dance where the telegraph operator enters. It was also the first film in which gunshots forced someone to dance (in scene eleven) - an oft-repeated, cliched action in many westerns. And the spectacle of the fireman (replaced by a dummy with a jump cut in scene four) being thrown off the moving train was a first in screen history.
In the film's fourteen scenes, a narrative story with multiple plot lines was told - with elements that were copied repeatedly afterwards by future westerns - of a train holdup with six-shooters, a daring robbery accompanied by violence and death, a hastily-assembled posse's chase on horseback after the fleeing bandits, and the apprehension of the desperadoes after a showdown in the woods. The steam locomotive always provided a point of reference from different filming perspectives. The first cowboy star, Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson played several roles: a bandit, a wounded passenger, and a tenderfoot dancer.

In Filmcollectief we got this movie for transferring and we were so excited that we have put an music-track under it because silent movie is so really silent. Allthough we had a perfect 16mm version, the copy-proces from 35mm to 16mm was not done very well. Anyway, the movie is over 100 years old.

Run time 9:39
Producer Thomas Edison
Production Company Thomas Edison
Audio/Visual music-track added later, black & white
Language only music-track

Credits, Cor Draijer, who did the transfer from 16mm to MPG


Reviewer: B-Movie Ben - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 24, 2009
Subject: 1001 Films to See Before You Die
It is reported to be the first use of narrative in a film in this country, and it is certainly the first "western" film. All other cops and robbers films sprang from this one.

It is short. Depending upon where you see it (YouTube, Google, etc), it can run from nine to 11 minutes, and some have color painted in. It was not about "stars" as no one is credited in the film, not even the director. It is about an infant industry showing what they can do and what we can maybe expect in the next 100 years. Hard to believe how far we have come from this start.

It will keep your interest from start to finish, which is more than can be said about many films today.

Any serious film lover has to add this to their list.
Reviewer: krasnoludek - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 23, 2008
Subject: perhaps mixed with 1904 version?
The movie itself was all right, but I'm wondering based on descriptions if some of the footage doesn't come from the 1904 version "The Great Train Robbery" plagiarized from Porter by Siegmund Lubin ( Specifically, the scene where the train conductor is beated repeatedly and thrown off the train seems like it should be from the 1904 version. However, this version does not have the arches in the dancing scene that should also be in the 1904 version, making me guess that the two versions were mixed for this copy.
Reviewer: Shihanu - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 20, 2007
Subject: DivX
Can you upload Divx version?

Reviewer: Filmcollectief Zandvoort - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 24, 2007
Subject: Movie Resampled!
For all downloaders, by accident a wrong version of this movie was uploaded and today, may 24, 2007 aroun 11 o' clock Amsterdam time, we replaced the MPG-file with a much better and sharper version. It is available for download now!
Reviewer: manavkaushik - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 6, 2007
Subject: Worth watching
WOW!! Finally its here. A small silent work that holds some "firsts" indeed. Perhaps, the very first western film with great narrative. The first stuntman "Frank Hanaway" who is seen falling from the horse and yes!! the train driver who is seen getting down from the engine, (I have forgotten his name) worked in almost 2000 shorts.

Nothing great perhaps but its worth a watch. An absolute archival material.

Strange, it is not in PUBLIC DOMAIN.
Reviewer: wilbrifar - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2007
Subject: not jump cuts
Great upload, but just a minor picky note: jump cuts and cross cuts are not the same thing. A jump cut is a deliberately jarring cut when a piece of footage is removed from a continuous shot, giving us a "jump" in the the shot. An familiar example would be the old romantic comedy cliche' of a woman going on a series of bad blind dates; we see the same shot of a restaurant table but we keep cutting to different losers sitting in the chair.
Reviewer: obieone - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2007
Subject: Another inovation?
I had a Black Hawk copy of this film in 8mm. In their synopsis and on the film they said that they restored color portions of the film. This was done with water colors and was seen in just a few instances such as gun shots (orange) peopele at a dance (a Blue Dress) and the safe explosion (orange). They claim that each frame was painted to heighten the effect.
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